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Medical News & Perspectives
January 5, 2016

Can Nonhormonal Treatments Dial Down the Heat During Menopause?

JAMA. 2016;315(1):14-16. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.15910

Obstetrician-gynecologist Ruth Haskins, MD, estimates that fewer than 10% of the patients she treats in her Folsom, California, practice take systemic hormones to manage menopausal symptoms. Patients frequently ask about options to ease hot flashes and night sweats, but they don’t want to take hormones, said Haskins, also president-elect of the California Medical Association.

“Since the WHI [Women’s Health Initiative] study came out, women are so scared [to take hormones],” said Haskins, referring to the landmark 2002 clinical trial that determined hormone replacement therapy (HRT) increases the risk of breast cancer and coronary heart disease, among other conditions (JAMA. 2002;288[3]:321-333). After the findings splashed across newspaper headlines and dominated television news programs, women abandoned hormones in droves. By one account, HRT use for menopausal symptoms plummeted by 79% from 2002 to 2010 (Sprague BL et al. Obstet Gynecol. 2012;120[3]:595-603). As a result, surveys have reported that about 50% to 80% of menopausal women now turn to nonhormonal therapies (http://bit.ly/1PSpzxt). Largely in response to this shift, the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) recently published a position paper on the effectiveness of various nonhormonal options for managing menopausal vasomotor symptoms (http://bit.ly/1PSpzxt).

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